Sunday, February 26, 2012

Belize week recap... Get ready for some photos.

Right now I am sitting in my apartment in Pana watching the Oscars. We had a team fly out of Guatemala City this morning at 5:00, so I met the Joshua (a bus driver we work with often) at the airport bright and early and headed back to Pana. He dropped me off in Los Encuentros where I caught a chicken bus to Solola where I got on yet another bus to Pana. On the first bus I shared a seat with a man with a basket of roosters (not kidding) then on the second bus I sat with a man who had a pig hanging out of his shirt (again not kidding!). I'm impressed that it was my first time riding one by myself and I did it with my backpacker's backpack and also my regular size one. Anyways, it's a good feeling to be back in my apartment, but I had an amazing week with Ashley. Here are some of my favorite pictures from our trip and some stories from the past couple of days.

Here are a couple of pictures from when Ashley visited Salud y Paz and met the kids and everyone I work with. The first picture is of us with Reyna (with me) and Pati. 2 Kindergarten students I adore.
With the first grade class. I am so happy Ashley got to play with the kids for a little bit.
Next up here are some Antigua pictures. We were only there for a day, but it was beautiful. I should spend more weekends in Antigua. This fountain is in the main square in Antigua.
 Here we are at lunch at Hotel Casa Santo Domingo. This is where we planned Parker's wedding. :)
 You can't really tell because it is far away, but Ashley is on the stage posing like a bridesmaid. By the way Parker got an email back from the wedding planner here with a DETAILED budget of his upcoming Spring 2013 wedding. If you read this and are now wondering why you didn't know Parker was engaged and getting married in Guatemala next Spring you should probably read my previous blog about Antigua before sending a congrats text.
The ruins at this hotel are gorgeous!!
I bought a painting of this arch in August when I went to Antigua for the first time. It is a beautiful view with the arch, cobblestone streets, and the volcano in the background.
Ash took this picture while we were walking around the town at night. I think the flowers in front look photoshopped it's so pretty.
Ok... now onto El Savador. :) After a 30 minute flight we stopped in San Salvador for about 20 minutes before flying for another 45 minutes to Belize City. We decided we needed to document our time in El Savador, so we took a picture with the tackiest thing in the store.
BELIZE!!!!! When we landed in Belize city we took a taxi to get to the water taxi. Then when we got to the second island we took another boat to our resort. Here we are on our hotel's boat heading to our island. Needless to say it was a little windy.
This is our resort. So beautiful!! It was on the very edge of San Pedro and a 30 minute boat ride away from the town of San Pedro.
Our room was right on the ocean front. It was so beautiful to just walk out the front door and see such a beautiful view. Here's Ash posing on our porch.
Living room view from the front door. Such a beautiful room.
We took so many pictures of the 2 of us with pretty backgrounds. We needed a third person to just follow us around to take pictures of us.
Ashley and I went on lots of walks around the island and I loved how deserted it was. We would randomly pass locals sometimes, but for the most part it was just the 2 of us. So quiet and peaceful.
One morning we were suppose to go kayaking and snorkeling, but it was too windy so instead we decided to ride bikes. Here's a helpful note... Riding a bike on sand is MUCH more difficult than riding on a road. However, I guess we really wouldn't know that since neither of us could remember the last time we even road a bike.
After our bike ride we took the boat to San Pedro to walk around town. I saw this little cuteness on the sidewalk and decided I needed a picture with it. I had read in our welcome book for the resort that we could have one pet with us in our room, but Ashley wouldn't let me.
We rented a golf cart for an hour to drive around town. Ash didn't care about driving, so I got to drive for the whole time which I loved. There wasn't a lot to see in San Pedro, but everything was so beautiful.
When we got back we went sailing. The resort has a hobie cat sail boat that a dude who works there will take you out on.

A lot of activities that we wanted to do got canceled because it was so windy the days we were there, so we sometimes had to come up with things to do. I decided I really wanted to climb a palm tree to pick a coconut. Ashley was a great cousin and took pictures of me to prove I really did it. I will admit it wasn't the tallest tree (who would choose the tallest tree with shorter easier ones around??), but it was in fact a tree that I had to climb. If you've met me then you know how accident prone I am, so to climb a tree and not fall out of it was a huge accomplishment for me.
It was a team effort getting the stupid thing open. Ashley insisted I only use knives when she was outside with me (see earlier reference about being extremely accident prone).
We used all the random kitchen tools we had in our room and scissors from the front desk. When I returned the scissors they asked why I borrowed them and then I got several weird looks when I explained I used them to open a coconut. Also one night one of the resort dudes came to our room to ask us about something and when I opened the door he was looking at the mess all over the table (did I mention that we left all the kitchen tools and coconut pieces on the table for a couple of days) and all I could come up with to say was "I climbed a tree". Ashley and I decided that people we meet must love us because we are so delightful (and by delightful I mean weird and quirky).
The next morning we decided to hike to the end of the island where it meets the coral reef. We were afraid we were not going to be able to snorkel because it was so windy, and we really wanted to see the reef. It was about 4 miles (we think) to the reef. After walking along the beach for about 45 minutes you come to the part that they call rocky point because the edge of the island is lined with coral rocks that have washed to shore. Half the time we walked on the rocks and half the time we just walked through the ocean. It was difficult because it was so windy which made the waves crash harder.
It was a hat day since it was so windy. :)
Ashley thought I needed an action shot of me walking on the rocks and not falling.
After our hike our snorkeling trip had been canceled (again... stupid wind!), so we instead just took the boat into town and thought we would see if we could find anything else to do there. After checking with many places who all told us it was too windy to do anything we checked on snorkeling the following day and found out that they were about to take a boat out that afternoon.

We went snorkeling in 2 places. The first one I can't remember the name of but it was a reserve where we mostly just saw fish and the coral reef. Our second stop was Shark and Stingray Ally (sounds scary right??) where we saw sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, fish, and again the coral reef. Apparently this is the second biggest coral reef in the world.
 SHARKS!!!!! I took this picture from the boat right before I jumped in to snorkel. Just to brag :) I touched 4 sharks, 2 stingrays, a countless fish. I actually kicked a fish in the face on accident then spent a few minutes swimming after it to make sure it was ok. Before you judge me you try swimming in huge flippers. It's difficult and you can't always tell what you're about to kick.
This isn't the best picture, but here Ash and I are snorkeling. We did buy an underwater camera that Ashley is going to get developed when she gets back in DC. I'll post those pictures on here after I get them. Hopefully they turned out really cool.
On the dock in San Pedro waiting to take the boat back to the resort after snorkeling.
 I don't have any pictures to go with this story, but on our last night one of the guys at the hotel (the social director... what a great job) asked if we wanted to hang out with him and another guy that night after dinner. We originally said no, but then we got curious about where locals would go to hang out on a deserted island so we said we would hang out for a little while. We ended up walking to an old abandoned shrimp factory that some dude has moved into and turned into a club. It was located between the 2 resorts that are located on that end of the island and it's where all the peeps who work at the resorts go to hang out after work. We learned that the guys from our resort are called the green iguanas (because they wear green shirts) and that the girls who work at the other resort are called the yellow birds (again they wear yellow). The club (aka shrimp factory) looked a little sketch to us, so we stayed outside at the picnic tables and hammocks and didn't go inside. We played the 'we are not dancers' card and left after taking in the experience. The things we do for a funny story.

Last morning in Belize I woke up really early and watched the sunrise from the dock. I sat there drinking coffee for about an hour before I saw anyone else up. It was such a beautiful peaceful moment at the end of a few really busy weeks.
Just a cute cousin picture in front of the resort sign on our last morning.
Before we got on the boat to leave we took a picture with our green iguana friends. Jose (who while he took us sailing I noticed a HUGE tattoo on his back that says Jose and asked who that was to which he just looked at me and explained that that was his name... hilarious awkward moment) and Harrison who is the social director at the resort. Ashley asked him the night before if he ever wore shoes and she got about the same look I got from Jose. Again we are just delightful guest to have. :)
There were only a couple of other people on the boat, so Harrison let us drive (or at least take pictures to make it look like we were driving).
Ash driving. When she tried to get up the first time she fell and then the second time she grabbed the steering wheel to help steady herself. I was afraid the whole boat was going to make a sharp turn.
We jumped off of the water taxi on Caye Caulker to spend a few hours on that island before heading back to Belize City to fly out. We walked around feeling like we were in an oven. It was so incredibly hot and without any breeze at all. After walking around for a few minutes we felt like we had already seen the whole island, so we looked for a lunch place. Mainly because we were too hot to walk anymore.
After Caye Caulker we headed back on the water taxi for Belize City. We both fell asleep on the boat and when we got off a guy grabbed us and our bags and within about 30 seconds of being off the boat we were already in a cab heading to the airport. We looked at each other and realized that we were both still half asleep. Ashley said that she almost yelled at the guy to put down her bag, but then was worried about what the other taxi drivers would think if a little while girl yelled at one of them. I feel like you can't really appreciate the humor of this moment unless you were there (sadly that may be the case with a lot of things I blog about).

This picture we took at the airport waiting for our TACA flight. We found diet cokes in a store at the airport! This may not seam like a big deal to you who live in the United States where they have the delicious diet coke, but here in Guatemala they only have the stupid coca-cola light which tastes nothing like diet coke. It was a great moment... some may compare it to finding gold.
Lastly, here are my embarrassing tan lines at the end of the week. I wore my chacos all week and now have Z's on top of my feet. I am also sporting a bad watch tan. Let's see how long it will take me to get rid of these.
This was a beautiful week and having Ashley come down to experience what my life is like here was truly a blessing I'll cherish the rest of my life. So blessed to have a cousin who wants to see what I'm doing down here and who also realizes without me having to say it how much I needed a break and some great one on one time with her.

It also has made me incredibly excited for the rest of my family to come in a couple of weeks. Oh my goodness and I looking forward to hugging them. To be able to sit and laugh with my parents, Poppy, and Parker is going to be such a needed vacation. I'm being so cheesy, but I really can't wait to hug my mom and dad, show Poppy everywhere in Pana I love so much, and finish planning in person Parker's wedding next year. :)

I have a lot more pictures from our trip on Facebook that I couldn't post on here because it would have taken so long. I think you can get to the album of pictures from this link:

Ok... back to the Oscars.

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